Rocky Glen: Laurel Line Connection (1902 - 1903)

-- Introduction -- Early Years (1885 - 1902) -- Laurel Line Connection (1902-1903) -- Early Amusements (1903 - 1914) --

Also at the turn of the 1900s, the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railroad was being formed, and was looking to build a direct rail link between the downtowns of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The railroad would become better known as the Laurel Line, and would stretch out of Scranton, down through Moosic and Rocky Glen, through Avoca, Pittston, Plains and finally into Wilkes-Barre, following the river until just past the courthouse, then turning into the downtown.

The Laurel Line was an interurban railway, using a third rail along the ground to provide power to the electric-driven engines of the passenger cars. Using the third rail design instead of overhead wires allowed the cars to travel at a higher rate of speed, and also gave the line a cleaner look without all of the electric wires above.

When the L&WV was acquiring the right of way for the new line, the company likely found opposition in different areas as land owners were unwilling to let go of their property, or perhaps were hoping for a better offer. In the early 1900s, rail companies had a lot more leeway in using eminent domain in order to ‘take’ land in order to build their lines.

There were however, several exceptions to the eminent domain laws. Various uses of property were exempt from eminent domain, including cemeteries. Frothingham knew this.

The new Laurel Line was projected to go straight through Rocky Glen, and Frothingham also knew this. He realized that having direct access to the new railroad would open his property to a huge population of potential customers, allowing him to construct a large park and to make a large profit.

This knowledge and realization leads to perhaps the most bizarre story of any of the amusement parks that once existed in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Although the details vary from source to source, the basis of the story remains the same.

Prior to the railroad acquiring the rights through his property, Frothingham purchased two unclaimed corpses, and buried them on his property. (Some sources claim he buried them directly in the proposed right of way.)

With his makeshift ‘cemetery’ in place, Frothingham now had a great bargaining chip when dealing with the railroad. It ended with the railroad building a station at Rocky Glen, something the company apparently had no plans of doing in its original design.

The Laurel Line approached Rocky Glen from Scranton on the east side of the new lake, before crossing it just north of the dam. The station was located adjacent to the dam on the west side of the lake, just below where the park was taking shape.

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The stories vary as to whether or not Frothingham approached the railroad about building a station before he decided to inter two corpses on his property. The sources also don’t say where the bodies were purchased from, and perhaps more disturbingly, what happened to them after an agreement was reached.

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